Jump to content

Get to know the new guy


Recommended Posts

Dunn proves critics wrong

Web posted Saturday, November 13, 2004

By Jeff Sentell | Staff Writer

The spark behind Laney's gigantic offensive performance in a 57-26 win came via an internet connection, a newspaper columnist's words and a printer. That was all the fuel necessary for Wildcats senior Robert Dunn.

"There's this guy on the internet who took exception to Robert's statement that he thought he was the Terrell Owens of high school football," Laney coach Eric Parker said. "The guy said that doesn't really fly with this jury."

It was mere opinion. Except it was one tacked on the team bulletin board at 11:15 Friday morning. Greater Atlanta Christian paid for that thought. Dunn had 240 all-purpose yards and four scores in the first half.

"I was making a comparison when asked who I felt I played like," Dunn said. "It was not like I was bragging. But the guy said that just didn't sit right with him. I guess he kind of looked down on me for saying that about Owens. That's how I took it. So I was just going to come out tonight and show I could be that kind of a player."

Parker tacked that column up on the team bulletin board. He saw Dunn read it. It was like he'd been hit with daggers.

"We could have come out here and played at lunch," Parker said. "Robert was ready. I mean he was just ready right then and there."

It wasn't just a one-man show. By noon, masses of Wildcats had seen the bulletin -and it didn't sit well with their jury. The feeling was universal that it was a slight to Dunn.

The fiery senior's passion for the game drives Laney. He's the clear leader of the team.

The defense rang up nine sacks. Running back Wayne Canty finished with 65 receiving yards, 130 rushing yards and two scores.

"Our kids rallied around him," Parker said. "You could just sense the mentality that our team was going to back Robert up. Take Dominique (Walker) as I watched him go out and he was just hot. There was something there. You could just see everybody wanted to help Robert prove that guy wrong."

To his credit, that Gwinnett County-based columnist has never seen Dunn play. The senior has now scored nearly 20 touchdowns on kickoff, punt, interception and fumble returns in his prep career, much less touchdown catches.

Dunn scored on four of the first five times he touched the football Friday. He averaged 50 yards on each of those plays. If Owens had the impact in the NFL that Dunn has on a high school field, the Pro Bowler would make more money.

Reach Jeff Sentell at (706) 823-3425 or jeff.sentell

Link to comment
Share on other sites

and another article on him

On the inside The Augusta Chronicle Georgia Player of the Year is Grade-A all-America football player. Dunn scored 20 touchdowns this year. Once out of every five times he touched the football, he took it to the end zone.

He scored on receptions, kickoff returns, running plays and interceptions. He had dominant games in nine of his team's 10 victories. The senior wide receiver was at his best when the games mattered the most. Dunn scored 10 times in the 2004 Georgia High School Association Class AA playoffs, leading Laney to its second semifinal appearance at the Georgia Dome in three seasons.

But the crux of his life now has little to do with football. He's plenty good enough to play college football one day.

If only it were as easy as just playing football.

The task right now is getting such a gifted young player in the hands of the right university. His skills make him a wanted man.

"Robert can play not just on Saturdays, but Sundays," Laney coach Eric Parker said. "There's no doubt in my mind he can get rich chasing a football."

Yet there is hesitation about a player with 43 career touchdowns and a highlight tape filled with solid gold credentials.

The wrapping and packaging around the football player have issues.

Dunn was under house arrest all season. He played with a tracking collar on his ankle that monitored every move. He had to adhere to a strict 8 p.m. curfew on nights he wasn't playing football.

He did so because of mistakes. Dunn's future is cloudy because of poor choices, ill-chosen friendships and being in the wrong place at the wrong time in life.

He was charged as an accessory to thefts of stolen property. He went to pick up a friend late one night for a favor, not to transport stolen goods.

Dunn discharged a firearm into the air in a McDonald's parking lot. A group of about 20 people were rushing the vehicle he was riding in and banging on the windows. Dunn was cited for what he believed to be an act of self-defense.

"Those were mistakes that have shown me pretty clearly what all I have to lose in life," Dunn said.

Dunn was asked how he'd let a college football coach know all about these missteps in his life.

He exhales with a breath deep enough to blow out a candle for each of his 1,824 career receiving yards.

Coming clean

Dunn would start from the beginning. He grew up in inner-city Augusta. He was raised by just his mother. Sherrell Dunn has seen hard times of her own, including two trips to jail.

But she didn't lead him to trouble.

The demands of a single parent with financial issues were too much to still have the time to keep such a mercurial football player from trouble.

"My mom has never been a bad parent," Dunn said. "When I did something wrong, she would knock my head off my shoulders. It starts when a parent can't be in contact 24 hours a day. A parent is at work. The kid is at school. That leaves the kid around somebody besides the parent. That's when trouble started creeping in my life. Being around the wrong people."

Dunn has seen three people murdered with his own eyes, including a friend about to sign a rap contract to Universal Records when he was 12 years old.

"I'd let that coach know every crack of my life," he said. "I'm not hiding it. If a total stranger came up to me and asked me about the trouble I have seen and gotten into, I'd tell them about it.

"Most people would tell them to mind their business. Not me. I take responsibility for the dumb things I have done. People come up to me and congratulate me for the things I'm good at. I've got to be willing to come clean with my mistakes, too."


Dunn does not believe in players whose talents are so great that big football programs take the good with the bad.

Willie Williams was embraced by Miami last season with a rap sheet 10 times longer than his Dunn's.

"I don't think you can ever be good enough at a sport to cover up or make up for what you have done wrong," he said.

When Dunn reaches a point in his probation where he's allowed to remove that tracking collar from his ankle, he'll miss it.

It's a reminder of the consequences in his life. He plans to buy a gold bracelet and strap it to that same ankle to never forget the feeling.

"I don't want to cover up my past," Dunn said.

He has lived through his troubles. He has a 2-year-old daughter to think of. She is one of the few highlights of his life right now off the football field. It's another reminder to run 100 miles an hour in the other direction when troubles tries to find him.

"Trouble is easy to get into but it is hard as hell to get out of," Sherrell Dunn said. "Robert's going to get out of it. We all have faith. He takes his future a whole lot more seriously now."

His current attitude is the product of some serious soul-searching over his most trying season. He's in church every Sunday. He listens.

But his college future is not as simple as a string of months and years of model behavior. The best football player in our part of Georgia is also faced with a fourth-quarter comeback in the classroom.


Dunn is enigmatic in many ways. His freshman- and senior-year grades show the work of a B student.

He took the SAT for the first time this fall and scored 840 without any preparation. He's now taking his first SAT prep courses. It's possible he could score 950 or even 1,000 with more tries.

It shows he's capable of handling college and college football. But a grade-point average that took some hits in his sophomore year and junior years clouds that academic picture.

In the 13 college prep units required by the NCAA Clearinghouse, his GPA is around 2.0.

It will take an minimum SAT score of 900 to qualify with that GPA on an NCAA sliding scale.

Laney's teachers are being hard on him.

He wasn't allowed to leave French class one day this month to greet a visitor until he finished an exam. He got a 100.

A new goal line

Dunn rising above it all is not a foreign concept to those who know him best.

His mentor, Clinton Brown, put up the property bond from jail the afternoon before Dunn won a football game the next night against Butler. Brown's given his direction and guidance as well.

"I owe that man my life," Dunn said. "He's shown me the most so far in life about what it means to be a man and to act like one."

It would serve him well at the next level.

"Robert can succeed on a college campus with or without football," Parker said. "I see him enjoying the life of a student going to libraries and doing research. Maybe being part of a fraternity. He's kind of gotten robbed of that sort of life growing up through high school."

It's similar to the response he gave to a different question:

How would you want your life story to end?

"First, I wouldn't change a thing," Dunn said. "Sounds crazy. But I think I needed to learn these lessons right now. I was bound to get caught for the mistakes I was making.

"If I never got caught this summer, it could be at a more critical time in my life. When I did get caught not thinking of the consequences of my actions, it might have stung a whole lot worse than it has now."

He sounds like a person determined to let every one know he's already made the worst mistakes of his life.

But it's not so he can score touchdowns. He'd like to be a lawyer one day.

"Robert Dunn's life story ends with him going to college and getting his degrees and becoming successful," Dunn said. "He gets married. He has kids and dies of old age. That's the perfect ending."

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...